Now is the time to comment on Gilford school spending

GILFORD – Voters will be able to learn more about the proposed bond for the Gilford Elementary School that will update and repair all of the mechanical, electrical, Internet and HVAC to today's standards, along with the school district's operating budget for the coming school year.  A public hearing regarding the proposed $2.2 million bond for mechanical repairs scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium, and the school district budget is scheduled for 7 p.m.

According to Chairman Karen Thurston, the School Board voted 4-to-1 to allow Bonnette, Page and Stone to do all of the repairs at once. Member Chris McDonough said that since the a 15-year-bond would cost more in the long run than spending $500,000 a year for five years, he would like to see the project done over time.

Thurston said rest of the board members felt that one disruption to the school rather than five years of them would be better for the students and employees. She also said that by doing the upgrades bit by bit, there would be some redundancies.

The Budget Committee supported the project by a vote of 10-to-0 and Thurston, who is the School Board representative to the Budget Committee, said hearing from the general public about the project will help the Budget Committee at it moves forward to the deliberative session of School District Meeting.

At 7 p.m., there is a public hearing for the Gilford School District budget. Scott Isabelle said yesterday that the proposed budget is $25.67 million and the amount to be raised by local taxes is $15.15 million.

Thurston said the biggest controversy between the Budget Committee and the School Board was the Budget Committee's recommendation that support staff and administrators get 1.5 percent raises while the average merit raises budget for teachers, who work under a collective bargaining agreement, is around 3 percent.
The School Board had asked for 3 percent for administrators and support staff.

Thurston said the support staff are generally the people who earn the least in a school district and one of the budget "triangles" used by the board is its employees.

She went on to say that the budget triangle has three components – the employees, the buildings, and the taxpayers.
"The school overseas the biggest buildings with the most employees and our output is well-educated students," she said.

She said the buildings are in use for many more hours than a school day and are used for community events, community meetings and activities for the students such as band, music, theater, sports and hundreds of clubs for all ages.

But, she said, "We have to consider the tax payers, and not just those in the island and shore districts who aren't residents.

"We have to consider the middle- and lower-income people who live in our community as well," she continued. "How do I balance this three ways is what I always ask myself."

She said the proposed budget, with many cuts made by the board and some additional cuts made by the Budget Committee, will not affect education or the goals set by the district's strategic plan.

"The Budget Committee is made up of dedicated, hard-working volunteers who spend hours going though every line of the budget just like we do," she said.

She said the reason she, a member of the board and the Budget Committee, want people to attend the tonight's public hearing is so they can appreciate and listen to what they have to say. She said that there is still time to tweak a budget after the public hearing but before the deliberative session.

Gilford felon caught with stiletto knife

LACONIA — A Gilford man is being held on $1,000 cash bail for having a stiletto knife on him while being a felon and for having criminal contact with police while he is out on bail for another alleged crime.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said that Brandon Heacox, 20, of 6 Cumberland Road said police were called to the home because of an argument.

After verifying there was an active arrest warrant from Laconia Police for willful concealment, police arrived at the home and arrested him. While being searched and handcuffed, police found a green stiletto knife in his front pocket. Heacox allegedly told police he carried it for personnel protection and that he thought it was legal for him to have.

Affidavits said Heacox was convicted in 2013 of receiving stolen property and being in possession of a stolen firearm. In 2012 he was convicted of attempted burglary.

Heacox was arrested in November of 2015 for criminal threatening and was scheduled to appear yesterday for charge.



Gilford board OK's continuation of joint football program with Belmont

GILFORD — The Gilford School Board Monday night agreed to continue a cooperative football team program with the Shaker Regional School Distinct for the next two years.
It calls for Gilford to be the lead school district in the partnership and retain regulatory decision-making power over the cooperative program, which has been in place for two years and will provide opportunities on both varsity and junior varsity teams for athletes from Belmont and Canterbury.
The agreement calls for the Shaker District to pay $15,000 in each of the next two years with costs to be shared equally in ensuing years. The Shaker District is also responsible for transportation costs to practice sessions.
Superintendent of Schools Kent Hemingway said that as a result of Belmont players now being eligible for varsity competition, the Gilford-Belmont Golden Eagles will likely be competing in Division II instead of Division III.
He said the school district has appealed to New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association to remain in Division III but it is unlikely the NHIAA will grant the request, as the combined student population of Belmont and Gilford is more than 1,000, making it one of the largest Division II student bodies.
The change means that Gilford-Belmont football team will most likely be playing in the 11-team Division II North Conference, which includes area schools such as Laconia, Plymouth, Kingswood and Kennett.
The two school districts currently operate a cooperative high school hockey program in which the Shaker School District is the lead district.